Coming into its first game of the 2017 season, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team was full of excitement.
For the first time in program history, the Wolverines have a senior class that will don the maize and blue. The women’s lacrosse team kicked off its inaugural varsity season with an exclusively freshman roster in 2014, and those same players are now seniors.
“The energy on the team was very high,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “The girls are very excited about the season and what can be accomplished.”
But all the energy in the world could not help Michigan overcome a slow start against Oregon on Saturday, ultimately falling, 11-8. Though the Wolverines won the draw, 10-1, in the first half, it wasn’t enough to contain the Ducks’ offensive onslaught in Eugene, Ore.
Oregon took an early lead three minutes into the game off of a free shot from midfielder JoJo Hesketh. Two more Ducks would find the back of the net over the next eight minutes to surge to a 3-0 lead.
But with 16:30 remaining in the first half, one of Michigan’s seniors stepped up to put the team on the scoreboard. Midfielder Anna Schueler — a two-time team captain and leader of the program — scored an unassisted goal, breathing some much-needed life into the Wolverines.
Yet, Michigan was unable to capitalize further, and three more Oregon goals put the deficit at 6-1 with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Finally, the Wolverines mustered up a slight run at the end of the half — outscoring the Ducks 3-1 with goals from freshman midfielder Molly Garrett and senior midfielders Kim Coughlan and Lauren Oberlander — to build momentum going into the second half.
Although Michigan found itself trailing after the first half, its success in the draw provided some consolation.
“We had been practicing the draw a lot,” Ulehla said. “But Oregon showed a different defense and stopped us from being as successful as we would have liked. We needed to be able to capitalize on our success better.”
Coming into the second half, the Wolverines kept their momentum up from the end of the first half, and just 1:30 after play resumed, senior midfielder Lauren Oberlander narrowed the deficit to just two. After six minutes of back-and-forth play, another senior — midfielder Kim Coughlan — closed the gap to only one goal.
But 7-6 was as close as the game would become, as Oregon went on a 4-2 run to end the game, ultimately securing victory for the Ducks. Michigan attacker Tess Korten, another senior, scored the team’s final two goals.
The Wolverine seniors will have to wait another day to win their first game in their final season, but Ulehla is excited about the future after their performance Saturday. She is hopeful that the Wolverines will win their first ever Big Ten game this season, and with a roster full of seniors, this will be the year to do it.
“The team as a whole stood out today,” Ulehla said. “I’m disappointed about this result. A few things here and there could have changed the outcome, but there is lots to be optimistic about.”